Contemporary Painters – Critics Comments

Cosmic Vision in His Works

Professor Zhang Jian Jun
Doctoral Advisor
College of Fine Arts, Shanghai University

It seems to me that above all, Chai is a color master.

What attracts us most is the red color, which is the earliest hue fascinating the human race. In China, the Upper Cave Men adorned themselves with red mineral pigments as early as 10,000 years ago. The primitive people held the color red to be the symbol of life, love, spring, warmth, emotion.

Quite different from the bright red in traditional paintings, the red color in Professor Chai’s paintings covers a great range, including pink and crimson. When these hues are applied to pictures, vigorous signs of life emerge before your eyes, delicate and charming, fully representing the enchantment of a changeable nature. Unlike the application of blue in Western and Chinese paintings, the blue color on Chai’s paintings is the hue he cherishes—a hue that stands for tranquility and for freedom of spirit and the constraints of the body.

We may notice other colors such as brown and green, mutually setting off and complementing the red and blue. According to Rituals of Zhou—Studies of Art Techniques, “Artists make full use of five colors in their paintings. The east means green, the south red, the west white and the north black. People hold the notion that in nature, heaven belongs to black, while the earth to yellow. “ In the professor’s paintings, color stands for the whole universe, as well. It is an authentic universe, created by the artist and emanating from his curiosity and love of nature.

 An Unfettered and Illusional Kingdom

Prof. Pan Yao Chang
Doctoral Tutor
College of Fine Arts
Shanghai University

It has been a decade since Chai Zu Shun started experimenting with ink-color abstract painting. Using seasonal scenes as subjects, Chai presents the awesome power of mountains and rivers in his paintings—power both in motion and at rest. These ink-color paintings mark another climax in his artistic career.

His recent painting style, called “image” or “mental imagery,” seems to pursue an uncertainty and primeval chaos. Coming from the innermost being, the image becomes an internal figure after it is refined inside the artist’s mind. For a painter, it is unnecessary for him to abide by the life-copying principle. Having been trained in sketching, painting from memory and water-color painting, an artist may transcend the life-copying period and free himself from the restraints of the form and image of an object. Then, by an “observing-remembering” method, the artist becomes more conscious of controlling the points, lines, surfaces and color—-the elements necessary for painting.

Although the concept of “image” is not exclusive to the Chinese, it is quite different from the approach in Western painting. In the Chinese concept, what the image shows is an interpretation of life. It weighs more toward aesthetic taste than portraying the specific object.

Instead of confining himself to traditional painting techniques, Chai takes time to explore ink-splash and pigment-splash methods for modern landscape paintings, drawing the strong points of the same pigment-dripping method by Jackson Pollock—thus, from concretization to image and then to mental imagery. Therefore, abundant cultural connotations are condensed in his paintings, including his cognition of traditional Chinese painting and his interpretation of Western painting.

With the efforts and experience of several decades in exploring abstract ink-color painting, Chai has formed his own style by merging both the traditional Chinese and Western techniques and skills, bringing abstract art to perfection.

Living Up to His Artistic Talent in Integrating
Chinese and Western Painting Skills!

Shao Da Zhen
Professor and Doctoral Supervisor
China Central Fine Arts Academy
Director of Theoretical Study
Department of China Artists Association

These [Chai’s] paintings are marked by their gorgeous colors, criss-cross veins and overlapping motley. Tactfully combining strokes with ink and colors, the artist extends the accidental elements and transforms them into abstract drawing symbols, representing pictures of romantic and wonderful imagery.

Amid the integration of ink and colors, people may experience the mountain landscape or the fluctuation of flowing water, as well as the gathering and dispersion of clouds. It is possible to hear the distant roars of tigers on one hand, and appreciate the romantic, forthright and unconstrained temperament of the artist on the other.

Poetic Images in His Paintings—On Prof. Chai Zu Shun’s Works

Liu Shi Lin
Vice-Dean of Media & Design School
Professor and Doctoral Adviser
Shanghai Jiao Tong University

I felt quite touched at the first sight of Prof. Chai Zu Shun’s paintings, which offered food for my reflection. The reason I was so moved by his works is his perfect skills in painting language, painting strokes and image presentation, as well as the maturity of his ink-wash paintings. His works convey his joy and affection for life.

Several rounds of dramatic reforms in traditional Chinese painting have left smaller room for innovation. However, standing before Chai’s paintings, one cannot help but be overwhelmed by the rhythm, texture and fabric formed in the interaction of paper, hue and ink typical to traditional Chinese painting; his enthusiastic passion and his fantastic mental imagery, free from the boundary between classicism and modernism; and by his fantastic mental imagery, free from the boundary between classicism and modernism.

Free from imitation and copying, he blends the major elements of Western painting with Chinese painting skills and tries his utmost to be a “rational creator” in his works, from realism in oil paintings to abstractionism in expressionism paintings. The distinctive style, derived from Western artistry, but differentiating from the Western realistic or abstract genre, marks one of Prof. Chai’s important artistic features.

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